Have you always dreamed of owning a home on a gorgeous tropical island? You’re not alone. Many people dream away but only a small percent actually end up owning property in the Caribbean. Buying a home in the Caribbean can be quite different than what you are used to in the States, Canada or Europe.
There are a number of common mistakes that are made when buying Caribbean Real Estate. Here is what you need to know so that your real estate journey here on Roatan is headache and hassle free.
First Mistake: Trusting any ‘Agent’
Like many other tropical islands, Roatan has attracted a number of fortune seekers from abroad. Because entering the real estate market here is fairly simple unfortunately, this means that pretty much anyone can call themselves a real estate agent. Many inexperienced agents fail quite quickly but often not before they have convinced several buyers to make an ill-informed or bad decision. Therefore, it is essential that you look for an agent that is a high-standing member of recognized accredited organizations like the RRA (Roatan Realtors Association) and follow the NAR (National Association of Realtors) code of ethics. Choosing a reputable agent that belongs to these organizations will also help give you peace of mind that they are up to date with all new laws and industry changes.
Be sure to do a background check on an agent you are considering working with, even if they are part of a franchise firm. Ask around and get advice from other people that have bought homes on Roatan and what their experience was dealing with their agent. A bit of upfront effort into choosing the right real estate agent can save a ton of hassle or even avoid disaster down the road.
Second Mistake: Believing Photos
Looking online only, it may appear that you have found your dream home. But that gorgeous, sprawling ocean villa with a rock bottom sale price may just be too good to be true. The beach in the photo may actually be a ten-minute walk down the road. Or, there may not even be a road or amenities at all. Desperate agents and sellers can make something look like something it is not when they are anxious to sell.
Never just buy a property without seeing it in person. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Find out why it is being listed so low or why it hasn’t already sold.
Third Mistake: Assuming all Caribbean Islands are the Same
Sandy beaches and being surrounded by turquoise water is about all that most Caribbean islands have in common. If you’ve spent a lot of time in Cayman but are attracted to Roatan real estate because of the prices, don’t assume that the lifestyle is the same. Before buying any Caribbean real estate, you should spend a certain period of time where you are considering buying. Rent a short-term home for a few months and get familiar with the healthcare access, internet stability, shopping options and what daily life is like.
Also, on an island like Roatan, different areas of the island offer very different lifestyles. It helps to explore different communities and find which one suits you best.
Fourth Mistake: Forgetting About the Weather
Roatan in March is sunny and beautiful – the perfect escape for many snowbirds seeking warmth. But the summers can be scorching hot and the fall becomes rainy season. When looking at a home, make sure it has a cooling breeze. Having a pool may be what helps you keep your cool in July and a screened patio can make a rainy stretch of days more enjoyable to be outdoors.
Also be aware that living in close proximity to the ocean can have an impact on your home. The excess salt in the air can cause rust and damage so it’s important to ensure that your house is constructed with durable and appropriate materials for this region. The weather can also cause lengthy power disruptions, you may want to make it a must-have feature for your Caribbean home to have a backup generator.
Fifth Mistake: Assuming Building is Cheaper
If you do not live on Roatan and know much about building processes here, building a home can be a long and frustrating process. Many people assume that it can always be done cheaper but that’s not always the case. It pretty much always takes more time and money than you expected and if you are not living on the island it becomes incredibly difficult to control the process.
Materials often have to be imported, which can be expensive and subject to delays. Rain delays can increase construction costs and good project managers are not always easy to find. There is a lot available on the current Roatan real estate market, chances are there is a home that is pretty much exactly what you’ve been dreaming of.
If you just can’t stop dreaming about finally buying Caribbean real estate, start by connecting with a trusted real estate firm. At Roatan Executive Realty, we have a mix of knowledgeable islanders and expats on our team that can help you make informed, smart real estate decisions. After all, real estate is our passion and we want you to be passionate about your new home and have a great experience in the process!